Brutal death metal, slam, deathcore, brutal slamming deathcore… Anyone outside of scene specific comment threads shouldn’t really care what they’re calling the blast and beatdown centric metal of bands like Ingested. Granted, there’s a hilarious insider joke regarding the “slam police” – the authority on whether a slam band is trve or not. Jokes man, jokes. When the final whistle on the planet is blown and the hordes of slamming brutal death bands face their final judgement before entering Slamhalla, Ingested will rest easy knowing they deserve a spot somewhere near the throne; thanks to The Level Above Human. It’s another solid release, full of just about everything one needs in extreme metal. Just about, mind.
Manchester’s angriest riff bringers have been at it for over a decade now, filling venues and track lists with death metal meaty enough to choke every vegan who slurped down a Coachella hot dog in secret. With their fourth full length, the band have now officially moved away from the “Intercranial Semen Injection” days, replacing the violent sexual imagery with relatively atypical death metal themes. It makes sense, really. The Level Above Human is their Unique Leader debut and though the label prides itself on releasing punishing music, “Condemned To Rape” is not a track anyone wants to be promoting in 2018. The shock and awe factor might be missing but the death metal chops are still very much on display.
“Invidious” and “Better Off Dead” are easily the most recognisable Ingested tracks on this record and it’s blatant why they are focus tracks. The gnashing riffs spat out by their string section chug and stutter through pleasing and dynamic grooves, pausing only to bring the tempo down to dirt scraping beatdown level. In all honesty, the meathead metal moments of the record are totally satisfying, in the way that meathead metal is – ugly, violent and designed to incite violence in rooms filled mostly with angry white guys. That is until “Last Rites” plucks its way somewhat gently into the fray, pulling the pace back far enough that already, scores of trve slammers have ejected the disc and thrown it into the bin next to an army of sad, wadded up Kleenex, empty cans of budget energy drink and some hammers. Presumably.
The Level Above Human flirts with more classic death metal sounds just as often as it plays to the crowd. The Mancunians responsible for this mayhem know exactly what gets a crowd going and do a great job of transposing that into recorded music, even if they sacrifice some of their earlier energy in lieu of writing more melodic (no clean vocals, fret not) death metal. Jason Evans also continues to show off his range of urghs, blurghs, bleghs and eughs, often layered atop one another to create the Nergal effect; the one where it sounds like he’s recorded his vocals in a particularly echoey cave. The frontman commands the less inspiring tracks with every breath he can muster, giving it all where others might just let the band plod away. Graciously, there are only a couple of tracks that merit a skip – one of the highest compliments any death metal record can get.
It’s definitely Ingested and it is most definitely the densest recording the band have released thus far, but is it the best thing they’ve ever released? Are they the true kings of slam? Who is actually the authority on this in the first place? Who knows. It’s great though. Great for brutal death metal as an entity of its own and great for the scene in general. Anyone terrified of the band turning into another tech-death act after their signing to Unique Leader can rest easy. The violence and brutality levels are still high and the impetus to crush skulls and have fun while doing so will keep fans coming back for repeat doses. The next step for the band might lie in more experimental grounds but could also be another step closer to achieving ultimate slamageddon. Ingested get to travel down whichever path they so desire because they continue to dish out a product that does exactly what it needs to. The final, instrumental track does sound like the instrumental that closes Chimaira‘s The Impossibility Of Reason though. Just saying.
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The Level Above Human drops April 27th via Unique Leader Records, and is available for pre-order on the band’s Bandcamp page.